James and I went for a nice country drive the other day. The roads near here soon change from tarmac to reddish brown dirt, bumps and lumps leading over sweeping open hills of grazing land, down to streams and past fields of sheep. Grand dark stands of trees mark the sites of colonial homesteads, many of them long gone. Vistas suddenly open up and gently disappear.
After a few hours, we turned down a little road that should hook us up with a homeward-bound way.
The road got a little smaller.
(Does anyone remember the spooky story about the car breaking down outside the mental asylum? You know, the one your sister told you when you were kids and were sleeping out under the stars - well, maybe not tonight, but some time, yes indeed.)
Oh, but it was beautiful, in a misty moisty sort of way.
It just also happened to be the Mother of All Mudholes.
Hands gripping the wheel, I skiied the car on a cushion of slippery silty slippery mud.
"Keep the speed up! Don't, whatever you do, stop!" my husband implored me, as I gritted my teeth into my best approximation of a rally driver's smile (driving a cute red Mazda, of course). I eased my foot down, steering into the skids like Dad taught me on ice in Canada. (Thanks, Dad!)
We hit a few hidden water holes, scraped the bottom and bounced a lot -- but we made it through, only to find the ruts deepening and the road descending to a mud-bound, rocky stream, which it forded. Theoretically.
James hopped out to check the road ahead. Nope. So he watched me from the grassy bank as I executed a classy and quick 22-point turn, we swapped over and he skidded his way through Mudhole Mamma, agreeing that it was a truly nasty driving experience.
We checked the map ad saw the small print: Passable only by 4WD. And we laughed, until James said:
"Hey - Where are my keys?"
It rained all night, torrents of rain. We lay awake, listening to the sound of James' keys gently slipping through mud to a resting place unknown.
In the morning, the dog loved the long walk in the squelchy mud. It was wonderfully beautiful, especially after we found his keys, gleaming in the grass at the side of the road - no, track - washed clean by the rain.
Thanks be to mud!